Sunday, September 27, 2009

Happy birthday Gwneyth Paltrow

My good friend "Sonya" "Tonya" (not her real name) has had (and may still have) among her aspirations, a dream of being an actress. Several years ago, when we were lamenting the injustices in the world (how can George Clooney be so handsome AND charming AND talented, and I'm just brilliant and overflowing with a unique sex appeal?--not fair).

Some of the laments had to do with actresses like Mira Sorvino (graduated with honors from Harvard and won an Oscar before she turned 30. Jodie Foster (I won't insult you by explaining who she is). And Gwenyth. I assured her that, had either of her parents been esteemed actors (Paul Sorvino for Mira, Blythe Danner for Paltrow) she would have been racking up the awards. Foster's just fucking talented and has been working all her life--that path is clearly for losers.

I don't recall how I first saw the 1993 movie Flesh and Bone, starring Dennis Quaid, James Caan and Meg Ryan; a movie that I really like. And before you leap to some "oh, Meg Ryan movie in the 90s, it's got to be a sweet little comedy" conclusions, let me tell you this is a somber little mood piece in which a man (Quaid) who watched his father (Caan) murder a family 30 years before meets the daughter who was spared (Ryan) and they fall in love. In an indie film kind of love. Music in minor key, distant stares, no dialog, and probably no actual sex on screen (although it's been a while and my memory is hazy). It's one of Paltrow's first movies, and she's fantastic as this con woman who has hooked up with Caan (who is old enough to be her grandpa). Written and directed by Steve Kloves (The Fabulous Baker Boys, writer of Racing with the Moon and Wonder Boys)--I hadn't heard about him recently, but I guess he is keeping busy as the writer of the Harry Potter movies. Which I haven't seen. Here are some of her scenes.

She's good (good, not great in my opinion) in 1998's Sliding Doors, a movie about the two possible paths a woman's life might have taken had she caught or just missed a train to work.

Her signature role, thus far, is 1998's Shakespeare in Love, which won seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actress for Paltrow. The screenplay itself is such a piece of genius (writers Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard pack so much into the screenplay that even on repeated viewings you're still finding new stuff--check out these references).

I think I was rooting for Cate Blanchett that year (for Elizabeth), an amazingly crafted movie. Geoffrey Rush is in both, and I thought he deserved an Oscar for Elizabeth, but was nominated for S.I.L.

Paltrow is good in Don Roos's Bounce. I didn't see Duets, but apparently she's got a nice voice. I say "nice" in the "it doesn't suck, but you'll notice no one is clamoring for her to remake Cabaret" way. You decide:

She had the lead in the film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winning play Proof. A solid film directed by John Madden (who also directed S.I.L.) with Oscar-bait written all over it (I fully expected at least a Supporting Actress nomination for Hope Davis), but it didn't pick up anything that year except a Golden Globe nomination for Paltrow.

And most recently (as far as I can recall) she's in the wonderful Iron Man. It seemed a shame that such a relatively small role would go to an A-list actress (the movie was so good that they could have gone without a name) but she's really great in it. So I guess I'm happy. She's back in Iron Man 2, hopefully with more screen time, possibly in a lot of scenes with Scarlett Johansson (who plays the Black Widow, a character I love but I can't give you any good reason why). I can't find a good scene with actual dialog (lots of fan clips with songs), so if you haven't seen it, just go rent it.

I'm purposely leaving off Seven (which, if it's actually Se7en, ought to be pronounced "se-seven-en" so I write is Seven) and Emma. She runs a "lifestyle" newsletter/website called Goop. And she's married to Chris Martin of Colplay. Happy birthday GP.

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